Winning a cyclocross race is no mean feat. The mud, cold conditions and climbing on and off your bike to get round the course. Many people, understandably so, give the winter cycling offering a big ‘no thanks’.
However, in a week where ‘Dogs at Polling Stations’ gave a more lighthearted feel to the UK’s general election, our canine friends clearly haven’t had enough of the limelight just yet.
As well as the mud and cold, riders at the Druivencross race in the Flemish Overijse region of Belgium had to also contend with a dog that had escaped onto the course.
As riders, including cyclocross world champion Mathieu van der Poel, cross the finish line to start another lap, a dog enthusiastically chases after them, with its lead still attached and its owner nowhere to be seen.
As Van der Poel and another rider surge on ahead, a chasing back close behind chase the dog round the bend, having to navigate not only the animal but a number of spectators and stewards who run out on to the course in an attempt to chase it off.
Van der Poel eventually won the race, finishing ahead of Brit Tom Pidcock in second place, with the young Dutchman bouncing back after being beaten in a cyclocross race yesterday (December 14) for the first time in 408 days.
Toon Aerts took the victory on a wet day at Hotondcross, with Van der Poel struggling to find his legs after two weeks at a training camp in Spain, the 24-year-old preparing for the upcoming road season where he is expected to challenge for major wins in the spring Classics.
Dogs causing problems at bike races is not a new or unprecedented phenomenon.
At Tirreno-Adriatico in 2017, Peter Sagan had to take evasive action after a woman walked her dog right into his path as he was competing in the individual time trial. After the race Sagan said: “I love dogs but please respect the safety of riders!”
One of the more infamous canine incidents occurred in the 2007 Tour de France, when a T-Mobile’s Marcus Burghardt collided with a labrador, collapsing his front wheel.
Luckily, neither rider nor dog were hurt by the coming together.